Starbucks showdown: Young entrepreneurs in Philly the big winner

“They said they were going to take a bad situation,” attorney Stewart Cohen says of his clients, “and they did.” The two men arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks outlet reached settlements with both the coffee-house chain and the city over their arrest, which touched off protests in the city and debate nationwide. The terms of the settlement with Starbucks remains confidential, but the two men settled for just a dollar each from the city — and a pledge of $200,000 for a fund to help young entrepreneurs.

ABC’s Robin Roberts interviewed all three this morning, and the two men at the center of the controversy do offer some hints about what they expect from Starbucks as well — a seat at the table, which is all they wanted before their arrest:

Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson will now “have a seat at the table,” they said alongside their attorney, Stewart Cohen, in an exclusive interview today on ABC News’ “Good Morning America.”

“The CEO of Starbucks is going to personally mentor these two young men going forward. After they met, he was so impressed and they were so impressed with one another that they’re going to have a continuing relationship,” Cohen told “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts. “So not only do they have a seat at the table and not only do we have this settlement, but we have the beginning of a relationship.” …

As part of their agreement with the city, the two men have decided not to pursue a lawsuit against Philadelphia and released the city from all claims for a payment of $1 each, the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office told ABC News. The dollar amount that Starbucks settled for was not disclosed.

Additionally, the city will fund a $200,000 grant to a nonprofit for a pilot program for public high school students who aspire to be entrepreneurs, according to the mayor’s office. Robinson and Nelson will not receive any money from that grant.

These settlements are a testament to the character of the two men. They could have turned themselves into angry activists (and with no small amount of justification), or held out for money and media gigs. It seems almost unbelievable that they would settle so quickly and, in the case of the city, for no direct benefit at all. From the conversation with Roberts, Starbucks has apparently agreed to fund their education so they can graduate from college, but it doesn’t look like either of them will get rich off of the coffee chain either. They seem intent on helping others more than themselves, and to move past this quickly to more positive work.

It’s an impressive show of grace. And perhaps one from which we all can take some lessons. And it sure beats this as a model of engagement: